Author's note: I'd like to apologize to the people who've already started reading this story. I took it down last night shortly after posting the second chapter because I felt the need to rewrite the whole thing from scratch. I wasn't satisfied with the writing quality. This story was inspired by two things –the ShinjiroxfemMC story in the game Persona3 and the song No Umbrella by Cynthia Alexander, both very dear to my heart- and I want to do them both justice. So I took down the story in order to improve the writing and amp up the plot a little. Hopefully it doesn't disappoint.

While I'm at it, I'll do the standard disclaimer. The world of Harry Potter (including its characters, dialogue and plot) do not belong to me, unfortunately. If they did, Dramione would reign supreme and Ron can just go barf slugs in a corner. The Persona3 characters, dialogue and plot are also not mine.

This is OoC Book 5 and after.

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SEPTEMBER 1st. 330 DAYS AGO.

Draco Malfoy stepped out of the Hogwarts Express and glared at the station sign, his left hand shielding his eyes from the sun. He couldn't believe he was back here. He didn't want to be. But he was under orders and like it or not, he'd been packed off to this bloody school once again. The very thought of those moldy stone walls, insipid classes and nauseating social interactions made him want to kill himself. Or maybe just puke.

But neither death nor semi-permanent sickness were open options to him. He was, unfortunately, here under orders. The Dark Lord had expressly requested him to remain at Hogwarts and act as a spy. He was to report the goings-on of bloody Potter and his friends (as well as any other useful information) to the Dark Lord himself. An honor, they had said. A punishment, more likely. He knew his father's mistakes, he knew where his family stood, and he knew their last name was going to the mud now in the darker circles. His left arm twitched. No, Draco was here because the Dark Lord was venting his Lucius-induced frustrations on him. He kicked his trunk. Pathetic. The darkest and most powerful wizard on earth was acting like a child.

"Draco. Come on, or you'll miss the carriages." The voice of his friend, Blaise Zabini, broke through his mental cussing of his master. Muttering a few more profanities under his breath, he picked up his trunk and joined his other friends in line for a carriage. Up ahead, Pansy Parkinson was sneaking glances at him, biting her lip. He pointedly ignored her. Girls had never interested him, for all his mother's efforts to set him up with one. They were just so… mindless, the way they practically threw themselves at his feet, drooling over his riches and his family name. Draco shuddered. For all his deviousness, his apathy and his arrogance, Draco had firm and somewhat chivalrous standards when it came to romantic relationships. He wanted a girl he could respect, not a lapdog.

It was finally their turn to get into a carriage. Draco heaved his trunk in and got into the last open seat. Across the small space, Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle both gave him slow nods. He eyed them with distaste. They were idiots, only useful because they would do anything you asked at the promise of cake. He didn't know why he had to put up with this.

He closed his eyes as the carriage jerked and started forward. That was a lie, of course. He knew exactly why he had to put up with this.

xxxxx

Please, Draco. Please.

A pleading voice.

That is enough, Narcissa. You are a Malfoy. Malfoys do not beg.

A cruel voice.

Standing. He remembered standing in the middle of that dark room, a room he had never been allowed into as a younger boy. He remembered the high ceiling with its glistening chandelier, the walls lined with books, the large desk at the far end with the Malfoy crest above it, the word Potestas engraved underneath. Power. That was all his family had ever cared about. Money and power and infamy. He lifted his head and met those sharp, gray eyes –eyes that were so similar to his, but held ruthlessness and desperation far beyond his own capabilities.

Draco, I am not asking. There is no other option for you. You will do this.

I already gave you my answer. I will not be the one to atone for your mistakes. I am not responsible for your stupidity.

His mother, sobbing: Draco-

SILENCE! The eyes widened and filled with anger as the word resonated throughout the room.

Draco, I am your father. You will listen to me, and you will obey. You will undertake this mission.

He dropped his gaze to the gloved hand raising a wand. Excruciating pain shot through his body, pain beyond anything he could have imagined. His resolved crumpled with him as his body hit the floor.

Now I will say this only once more, Draco. You will do this. Or do I have to repeat that little sensation?

Standing. He remembered standing –getting up. Struggling to his feet. Potestas. He could feel the power being exerted over him, could almost touch it.

No, Father.

Come to the dining hall this evening. Our master will be pleased.

xxxxx

Our master… The sudden halt of the carriage drew him back from his memories. As the others unloaded, he absentmindedly rubbed his upper arm, his mouth tightening at the memory of the pain and the unwilling promise drawn from his lips. At the memory of his father's amusement and relief, the smile, the lips lovingly caressing the word "our" as it dropped from his mouth. He knew his father had been as desperate as his mother to get him to agree to this, and only Malfoy pride had prevented him from fully showing it. But he hadn't been able to hide it in his eyes. Draco glanced at the reflective surface of the carriage window. Silvery-gray eyes stared back. If he was honest with himself, it wasn't the pain that had dragged the concession from his lips, not entirely. It had been his father's eyes and the emotions he had witnessed there –emotions he had never seen in himself. Desperate to protect himself, his family, his honor and position. Wildly grasping at whatever straws he could –even offering his own son.

"Draco?" He blinked. Too many reveries to be broken out of, today. He looked down at Blaise.

"My apologies. I was reminiscing." He took his trunk and, with Blaise, walked into the castle.

"Drakie, are you all right? You look a little pale." From behind him, Pansy put her hand on his left arm, apparently concerned. The minute their skin made contact, Draco felt as if his arm was on fire –and not in the good way. He shook her hand off, angrily, impatiently.

"I'm fine," was his eloquent reply as he stalked off toward the dungeon.

xxxxx

As soon as Draco got to the dormitory room he threw his trunk at the base of his bed, where it made a satisfying thunk. Kicking off his shoes, he lay down on the sheets and crossed his arms under his head. He wished he could just fall asleep and never have to wake; never have to go through what he knew was going to be hell. But again (being honest with himself –something he was still trying to get used to), he knew he could never do that. Lightly he touched his left forearm, drew back the sleeve a little. A black skull glowered up at him, spewing a snake from its mouth, looking at him as if reading the very depths of his soul. It felt as if his master was watching him, even here in the private confines of his dormitory. He pulled the sleeve down, hard, as if shutting a door. And then he got up and prepared himself for dinner.

When he had reached the top of the dungeon steps he paused, smoothing down his shirt and running his fingers through his white-blonde hair. Composing himself. His eyes felt heavy. The buzz of student gossip was already reaching him even here, and he knew that when he entered the Great Hall he would be assaulted by hundreds of voices trying to overtake one another, competing with the clank of utensils on plates and the mastication of food. Part of him wanted to skip all that, to stay in the dormitory and feign sleep until his nightmares took him once again. But his stomach growled and the rational part of him reasoned against that plan. Shaking his head, he strode towards the Great Hall. But before he could make his usual sauntering, arrogant entrance, he bumped into someone. Stumbling slightly toward the doors, he turned, ready to take out his anger on the impudent student who had gotten in his way. But he stopped. Before him, getting to her feet and dusting off her robes, was a disgruntled, disheveled and very different Hermione Granger.

And for the first time in his entire life, Draco felt his jaw drop.

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Author's note: there we go. Much better than the first chapter, or so I'd like to think. You guys might want to pay attention to the timeline written at the start of every chapter because it's going to be important and I don't want you guys to be confused. The plot that's brewing in my head is a bit of a tentative and risky one, and I'm not sure if I can pull it off, but I'll do my best. In any case, please review me and tell me if anything's wrong. Please and thank you!